The U.N. asked for billions to avert four hunger crises. The money didn’t arrive

by Kevin Sieff, June 3

NAIROBI — At the beginning of this year, the United Nations made one of its boldest requests ever for funding. It needed billions of dollars to fund a humanitarian response, said Secretary General António Guterres, or as many as 20 million people might starve to death.

Five months later, the results of that appeal are dismal. The United Nations has raised about a third of its goal, and there’s little reason to believe that much more is coming.

The funding is for four countries facing massive hunger crises: South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. Of the $6.1 billion requested for those countries, only $2.2 billion, or 36 percent, has been pledged.

In each crisis, according to aid officials, the lack of funding has led to a reduction in food assistance for those in need. It remains unclear how many lives have been lost because of the lack of funding, but the United Nations has recently unveiled stark statistics about the unmet need.

This month Guterres warned that a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes of preventable causes such as conflict, hunger and disease. UNICEF has said that more than 275,000 children across Somalia are facing severe malnutrition. In South Sudan, the United Nations says that 2,800 people are fleeing worsening violence and looming famine every day.

“It means, quite simply, that large numbers of people, particularly children, will suffer and die,” said Andrea Tamburini, chief executive of Action Against Hunger.